Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell is widely known as one who will platoon lineups against left-handed pitching. Many fans question the lineup announcement once it's released and wonder why their favorite players are on the bench.
Players such as Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Joey Votto, and Will Benson are often absent from the lineup when an opposing team sends a lefty to the mound. The majority of those left-handed batters barely see southpaws at all.
Will Benson is having a solid season for the Reds, but has had very limited opportunities against lefties. Benson deserves the chance to prove he can be more than a platoon bat.
Will Benson deserves the chance to prove he can be more than a platoon bat.
The Cincinnati Reds traded for Will Benson during the offseason. In exchange, the Cleveland Guardians received outfielder Justin Boyd and left-handed pitcher Steve Hajjar.
Benson has enjoyed a breakout year with the Reds. According to FanGraphs, the former first-round pick has hit .286/.389/.524 with seven home runs and 12 stolen bases. However, Benson does not typically play when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
Benson has had 22 at-bats versus southpaws this season. He's hitting just .095 with one extra-base hit against left-handed pitching. So you can see why David Bell prefers Benson not to start unless the Reds are facing a right-hander.
But with Nick Senzel, who was hitting lefties very well, now down at Triple-A, the Reds options to replace Benson in the starting lineup are a bit more limited. Stuart Fairchild and TJ Hopkins are now Bell's top options to replace Benson versus left-handed pitchers.
Hopkins is little more than placeholder at this time until Jake Fraley returns from the IL. The outfielder is hitting just .185 in 27 at-bats. Fairchild's splits (.712 OPS versus right-handers and .744 OPS versus left-handers) are not that drastic that he should be taking routine at-bats away from Benson.
Will Benson has a very small sample size against lefties and could shine if given more opportunities to close out the season. While it doesn't necessarily fit into David Bell's typical thought process, this is one of those times when the analytics need to be pushed aside.